RTPEs & RIA’s CR

This fourth in a five-part series of articles explores the participation of a qualified third-party expert in the execution of a competently executed structural restoration. This edition explores the considerable value of RIA’s CR designation carried by such an expert.

Few deny that the property restoration industry has progressively become more difficult due to a catastrophically diminished trust between insurers and service providers. Today, the intensity of this lack of trust has produced a market whereby administrators of preferred vendor programs, service provider networks, and third party administrations (TPAs) privately negotiate stipulations with insurance carriers that are blatantly substandard, along with the promise to impose rules upon service providers who participate in their programs which are patently unfair. This results too often in a property owner not receiving a competently executed restoration effort and/or a shortfall in a fully justifiable insurance settlement. The service provider must choose between the risk of participating in an incompetently executed restoration effort or prudently performing the project competently while forfeiting justifiable and necessary revenue.

The solution may be found through the regular involvement of an entity that can build trust between the insurer and service provider through the evaluation and guidance of an independent expert in the competent delivery of structural restoration that is in accord with the industry’s accepted standard of care to be followed; an RIA Registered Third Party Evaluator (RTPE)**. The RTPE would represent the needs of the structure — not the financial interests of the service provider or insurer.

Who would qualify to be this RTPE? It should be someone formally trained at the highest level in restoration practices, a truly seasoned professional with a significant portion of their career spent in the development of skills and knowledge pertaining to the restoration and/or repairing of structures and contents. This would indeed contrast with many who claim to possess authoritative understandings on projects upon which they have never set foot and trades in which they have never executed in commerce.

A CR CAN BE AN IICRC S500-2015 “SPECIALIZED EXPERT”

While not a mandatory sequence to be followed, a person seeking the title of “Specialized Expert” could establish their logical career development plan to be:


Certified Mold Professional (CMP) credential, so as to contribute to the experience and education necessary to be recognized as an Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP.) (S500-2015, 2015, p. 16)

This would be followed by the successful acquisition of their


Water Loss Specialist (WLS) credential, so as to be recognized as a “Drying Expert.” (S500-2015, 2015, pp. 45, 57)

Finally, as a capstone to their formal education ambitions, they would acquire their


Certified Restorer (CR) credential, so as to be recognized as a “Specialized Expert” on the subject of structural restoration. (S500-2015, 2015, pp. 45 – 47)

Established in 1971 by Marty King, no other credential in the restoration industry carries the weight and respect given to those who possess the CR credential. It is generally considered to be the capstone credential for those seeking to be recognized as the most qualified in their practices.

The Certified Restorer Body of Knowledge (CR-BOK) that has been produced and officially released should instill confidence in the skillset carried by a conscientious Certified Restorer. A CR has demonstrated its commitment to its trade at a level unparalleled in any other credentialing program associated with the property restoration industry.

Along with the additional requirement of letters of recommendation, similar to the pre-requisites for the WLS credential, several years of verifiable experience is required by those submitting their CR application. Likewise, specifically absent from this list are individuals who “review service provider files.” They do not fall under the category of “worker, supervisor, consultant, manager or estimator.” They are mere “reviewers” absent of any practical experience. Such individuals are unlikely to be qualified to fully understand the trade of structural restorative drying and the decisions required to competently engineer and execute an effective restoration strategy.

Those who try to convince others they are an “expert” in a subject as a result of attending a single course are usually mocked. An authentic expert is frequently identified as a result of others declaring them to be such — whether they like it or not.

The IICRC S500-2015 speaks of the need for a qualified Specialized Expert, and this list was outlined in last month’s RTPE article related to the WLS expert. A CR will likely possess many of the qualifications carried by
a WLS in addition to many more that can be used in producing a well-rounded understanding of a competently executed structural restoration.

Consider Section 12 of the S500-2015 as it speaks to the subject of a CR’s skill set and their value as an RTPE:

“Restorers should be qualified by education, training, and experience to appropriately execute the skills and expertise required to safely perform the restoration of structure and contents.” (S500-2015, 2015, p. 45)

No other formal education program explores the subject of “execut[ion], skills and expertise required to safely perform the restoration of structure and contents” to the level of a CR in addition to an effective and professional demonstration of communicating these restoration need to others.

“When the service of a specialized expertise is needed, restorers should hire, or recommend in a timely manner that the client hire, the appropriate specialized expert.” (S500-2015, 2015, p. 45)

Section 12 of the S500-2015 leaves the determination of when to make this recommendation to involve a Specialized Expert up to the service provider, and perhaps service providers should be exercising this standard procedure more frequently. After all, the standard uses the word “should” in describing when to use these experts. Remember the Important Definition within the IICRC standards: “should: when the term should is used in this document, it means that the practice or procedure is a component of the accepted ‘standard of care to be followed,

The “RIA Registered Third Party Evaluator (RTPE)” is a proposed idea under consideration by the RIA. This series of articles is drafted with the intention of determining market interest and sentiment. You are strongly encouraged to provide feedback on this subject — both positive and negative — through email at ken@drystandard.org, or the editor of this magazine, mcarrozzo@restorationindustry.org. We look forward to hearing from you.

while not mandatory by regulatory requirements” (S500- 2015, 2015, p. 9; “Important Definitions”) We should not hesitate to follow standard restoration practices that reflect competence.

While the S500-2015 is clear that a specialized expert is not necessarily required on every restoration project, they are clearly appropriate whenever an entity is reasonably expected to challenge the service provider’s processes. The regular involvement of TPAs who relentlessly and arrogantly debate competent restoration practices has introduced a particular need in defense of the restoration project’s needs.

The RTPE does not defend a service provider or property owner. Representation of either of these entities would likely require an attorney or adjuster’s license. Rather,
the needs of the property require representation and a qualified RTPE introduces this important entity into the conversational mix.

Section 12 of the S500-2015 describes some elements of a CR’s formal education that further qualify them to be called a “Specialized Expert:”

• “engineering (e.g., building science, electrical, HVAC mechanical systems, soils or landscape, construction, materials, structural);
• specialty trades (e.g., plumbing, electrical, roofing, masonry, carpentry, waterproofing, landscape grading, glazing, floor installation);
• hazardous materials abatement or remediation (e.g., asbestos, lead, fuel oil);”

To be clear, a CR is not awarded an engineering degree or license for many of the subjects listed above, however, their studies have definitely included a review of most of these subjects. A CR has a general understanding of how these building sciences integrate into the design of a competently engineered restoration plan. In contrast, these subjects are unlikely to even be on the radar of
the one possessing a certificate of attending a 3-day introductory course. Qualifications and formal training of any individual recognized as “expert” absolutely matters.

S500-2015; 12.3 WORKING WITH A SPECIALIZED EXPERT

While it is too lengthy to include in this article, it is worthwhile reading the language expressed within Section 12.3 of the S500-2015. It describes the complicated dynamics that arise when an expert is retained on a project involving several materially interested parties.

The three bullet points included within Section 12.3 are of particular interest as they describe the necessity of confidentiality related to the project. This subject deserves some careful re-consideration as we explore the dialogues between TPAs and service providers. Our service providers actually permitted to communicate with the TPA about their customer’s property, or is this in fact a tortious breach of confidentiality? Is the subject of confidentiality indicated in writing?

The subject of reliance is the second bullet worth reviewing from this section of the standard. The minimal education carried by most TPA representatives makes the service provider’s willingness to accept their demands a dubious decision. Adhering to their demands “might not absolve the restorer of legal risk or other responsibilities.” (S500-2015, 2015, p. 47) In today’s litigious marketplace, it is nothing short of critical to identify and work with Specialized Experts who truly qualify to carry such a title, and TPAs rarely — if ever — qualify as such.

The third subject of overlap is also relevant. When the service provider’s experience and opinion conflict with the Specialized Expert’s, the service provider should decide “whether to continue the inspection and not perform the restoration or to transfer responsibility for further inspection and assessment to a specialized expert.” (S500- 2015, 2015, p. 47) This language is particularly relevant as it relates to the demands from a minimally educated TPA representative who places themselves into a position of expert. This is a subject worthy of discussion with
an attorney.

RTPES WITH A CR (AND WLS / CMP) CREDENTIAL AND THE TPA

Entities who have negotiated program stipulations with the insurance carriers (TPAs) carry the fiduciary responsibility to represent the interests of the entity they claim to serve; the insurance carrier. This is their customer — not the service provider or property owner. Furthermore, these entities are frequently grossly unqualified to speak to the scoping or procedural needs of the restoration project on any level! These facts should alarm all who are involved in an insurance claim.

Any homeowner who suffers damages from a covered peril according to the terms of their insurance policy can file an insurance claim and is entitled to have the expenses related to their property being competently restored. To establish the scope of work and needs of a competent restoration protocol, a Registered Third Party Evaluator can be retained by the property owner to define the needs of the project. If the insurance company and the TPA were indeed interested in serving their common customer (the property owner), they too would welcome the qualified RTPE who possesses a CR credential.

Service providers who participate in claim referral programs regularly encounter disputes from unqualified program enforcers. A qualified RTPE can provide an unbiased description of the structural repair needs and a competent execution. The insured can then include the expense of the RTPE in their proof of loss declaration. This can also be of value to the service provider as they submit their justifiable charges for the services as collaborated with the RTPE.

The TPA can then stick to what they do best: assemble documents in preparation for the licensed adjuster’s review and expedient file closure.

An RTPE who carries a CR credential can be a qualified “Specialized Expert” as described in the S500-2015
in determining the usual, customary, and justifiable services required to competently restore a structure.

The regular involvement of TPAs who relentlessly and arrogantly debate competent restoration practices have introduced a particular need in defense of the restoration project’s needs.

Following the CMP credential, and subsequently, the WLS credential, the third advanced credential acquired by those seeking to be an RTPE should be the Certified Restorer (CR).

An individual possessing one or more of these credentials possesses the respect of those who understand the difficulty and commitment to achieve these titles. As industry leaders, they are well equipped to position themselves as one of the restoration industry’s qualified and authoritative experts: the RIA’s Registered Third Party Evaluator.

We will explore the potential new RIA designation of a Registered TPE in next month’s issue.RIA

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